Thursday, November 01, 2007

Interview with a Travel Writer...Mark Hodson

This week’s interview is with London-based travel writer Mark Hodson.

A journalist for over 20 years, Mark now freelances for the Sunday Times. Specializing in travel, his articles range from practical travel tips (The Top 10 Travel Websites) to features (A Fairytale Setting in Slovenia).

Mark also runs Travel SEO, a company that provides search engine optimisation strategies for the online travel industry.

Hi Mark and welcome to My Year of Getting Published. Thanks for taking some time to chat with us.

1. Did you always want to be a writer? How did you get started in

Towards the end of my philosophy degree I realised I ought to make
some career plans and I thought journalism sounded fun. A
particularly useless careers advisor tried to dissuade me, even
suggesting I might be too "thin skinned". That was really all the
encouragement I needed.

2. What do you consider your first "break" as a travel writer?

I had been in full-time journalism for about five years when I left a
job as a sub-editor to travel the world. I spent three years travelling in the winters and working summers at a newspaper in London. I wrote some travel articles about my experiences in Asia and Latin America. They were quite good for a beginner, but no editor would publish them because I wasn't a "known" writer. Finally, I found a sympathetic editor at The Financial Times in London and once I was published, other editors became interested.

3. What advice would you give to someone who wants to break into travel writing?

Study the publications you want to write for, so you know exactly
what they want, then tailor your proposals and submissions to their
style, content and readership. Don't try to reinvent the wheel. Most
editors know what they like - they just want more of the same. And
don't make the mistake of trying to start at the top. Many people
think travel writing is all about the big reads, but editors also
need short pieces, newsy stories and "how to" guides.

4. What do you see as the future for travel writers in print media
and online ?

There will always be a demand for good writers, and good travel
writers, but today it's more important than ever to be nimble and
adapt to the changing media landscape. I think print media is in slow
decline, but it's not dead just yet.

5. Which travel writers and/or travel books have influenced you?

Video Night in Kathmandu by Pico Iyer worked for me.

6. As a writer and traveler, what are the biggest challenges you face on the road ?

Guilt. I try to banish all thoughts of my wife at home looking after
our two kids, but sometimes it's hard. (joke!).

7. Finally, what is your favorite place and why ?

India is hard to beat for its full-on sensory impact, but the key to
enjoying any place lies in the attitude of the individual traveller.

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